FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.2, April 1999


CAMEROON (19 April)

1998 cereal output is estimated to be about average. Food prices decreased following the harvest and the food supply situation is satisfactory. In late March, following eruption of Mount Cameroon, 60 km west of Douala, people fled to Douala and Limbe, but the situation is now back to normal. Food supply difficulties are likely in northern areas affected by poor crops. A WFP Emergency Operation provided 6 000 tonnes of relief food for 210 000 people in the extreme north in 1998. A new emergency operation for six months will allow distribution of 9 500 tonnes of food to 660 000 persons in the north (10 percent) and extreme north (90 percent).


Following good rainfall, a favourable cereal crop was harvested in late 1998. The food supply situation is satisfactory. For the 1999 marketing year (January/December), the cereal import requirement is estimated at 34 000 tonnes, mainly wheat. Some 7 500 refugees crossed to Bangui following the outbreak of fighting in Equateur province in DRC in December 1998/January 1999.


According to the last UN update, the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in DRC is now estimated at 467 000. In Katanga province, an estimated 40 000 IDPs are scattered west of Manono, while some 50 000 residents of the Tchuapa and Ubangi districts in Equateur province fled renewed hostilities in the last days of March and were believed to be hiding in nearby forests. About 20 000 displaced people were staying with host families in the Kabare/Kalehe zones of South Kivu, while military activity has resulted in continued population displacement in the Walungu-Mwenga-Shabunda axis of the province. Many displaced people were reportedly arriving at Idjwi.

In North Kivu, people from the Masisi district were reported to be returning after eight months of displacement. However, frequent raids by Interahamwe militia continue to displace a considerable number of people in rural areas of Rutshuru- Kanyabayonga. Other population displacements were recently reported in Maniema and in Kasai Oriental provinces. In Uvira and Fizi areas of South Kivu, tension is reported between the local population and Banyamulenge in the haut and moyen Plateau. A recent FAO mission in northern and southern Kivu estimated that 240 000 families (1.2 million persons) have been affected by recent civil disturbances.

In Kinshasa, the food supply situation is difficult and prices of basic food commodities have increased sharply, notably following a large increase in fuel prices. The three provinces that traditionally provide Kinshasa with food are being overexploited due to the impact of the war and there is a risk that stocks will run out. Food production in Equateur province has diminished, while insecurity and other factors has limited transportation of goods to the capital. Similarly, the war disrupted the 1998/99 A season in Bas- Congo province and exports of locally-produced goods to Brazzaville have increased. Bandundu, the only source of food for Kinshasa's population that remained in full agricultural production, is now also meeting requests from the Kasais, and it is unclear how long the province will be able to send significant quantities to the capital. The situation may lead farmers in the food-producing provinces to sell all their supplies without keeping the necessary quantities for their own consumption or sufficient seeds for use in the next season. Meanwhile, imported goods have diminished since the recent introduction of foreign currency regulations. This has had a negative impact on food security.

CONGO, REP OF (6 April)

Electricity and water supplies have been partially restored in Bacongo and Makelekele districts of southern Brazzaville. These have been deserted by an estimated population of 200 000 since fighting in December 1998. However, markets and other basic services remain closed. Some 25 000 displaced people from southern Brazzaville were staying at 18 northern Brazzaville centres as of mid-March. They have not yet been officially authorised to move back permanently to Bacongo and Makelekele, although a few have resettled into their homes. Some of the nearly 100 000 displaced people who fled the southern town of Dolisie due to fighting between government forces and militia groups have started returning home. Clashes are continuing in the Pool region, where an estimated 120 000 Brazzaville residents fled in December.


In addition to the staple foodcrops of sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains, the annual cereal import requirement is some 10 000 tonnes. Food aid requirement in 1999 (January/December) is estimated at 2 000 tonnes of wheat and rice.

GABON (6 April)

The main staple foodcrops are cassava and plantains, the production of which is estimated at about 330 000 tonnes. The country imports the bulk of its cereal consumption requirement, estimated at around 85 000 tonnes in 1999, all of which is brought in commercially.

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